IDF prepares to face more Palestinian rioting on Nakba Day
After 59 Palestinian killed and over 1,200 wounded from gunfire on the Gaza border, Israeli security forces prepare for Nakba Day protests in the strip, in Jerusalem and in the West Bank; some 3,000 police deployed in the capital, while the Kerem Shalom crossing is expected to reopen after three arsons.
Israel's security forces are preparing for Nakba Day on Tuesday, with Palestinian protests, which claimed the lives of 59 in Gaza the previous day, expected to continue and perhaps even escalate.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held security consultations Monday night with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh and National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat.
The prime minister said after the meeting that the determined actions of the IDF and security forces prevented a breach of Israel's border. "The IDF, the Shin Bet and the police are prepared with reinforcements for any scenario," Netanyahu added.
At the height of Monday's violent clashes on the Gaza border, some 40,000 Palestinians protested in 13 different spots.
"In response to the terror activities, 11 Hamas terror targets were attacked using fighter jets and other aircraft. In addition, the IDF attacked two terror positions in the north and south of the Gaza Strip with tanks," the army said. "The IDF is acting and will continue to act in a determined manner against the extensive terror incidents, which are being led by the Hamas terror organization. Any terror act will be met with a harsh response. Our forces are determined to defend Israel's sovereignty and its citizens."
During the rioting, 25 kites were flown from Gaza into Israel, 17 of them affixed with flammable materials, causing fires in 23 locations.
The IDF also released a list of incidents that took place during the violent rioting on the Gaza border:
11:30am - Hundreds of rioters ran towards the border fence in northern Gaza, with some climbing the fence in several places.
12:53pm - Five pipe bombs went off in the northern Gaza.
12:58pm - Explosive device went off in northern Gaza.
1:15pm - IDF thwarted an attempt by a terror cell to plant explosive devices by the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip; terror cell, made up of 4-6 members, opened fire at IDF forces, who returned fire.
1:30pm - Fire opened at IDF forces in the northern Gaza Strip.
1:45pm - Fire opened at IDF forces in the northern Gaza Strip by eight terrorists under the cover of the protests, troops returned fire.
1:50pm - IAF aircraft attacked Hamas position in the northern Gaza Strip.
2:09pm - Three explosive devices went off in the southern Gaza Strip.
2:10pm - IAF aircraft attacked Hamas position in the northern Gaza Strip.
2:13pm - Molotov cocktail thrown at IDF forces in the southern Gaza Strip.
2:15pm - IDF tanks attacked Hamas position in the northern Gaza Strip.
2:49pm - Molotov cocktail thrown at IDF forces in the southern Gaza Strip. The troops returned fire.
3:10pm - Explosive device went off in the northern Gaza Strip.
3:26pm - IAF fighter jets attacked five Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip.
5:04pm - IDF tanks attacked Hamas position in the northern Gaza Strip.
5:25pm - IAF fighter jets attacked three Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip.
7:02pm - Terrorists opened fire at IDF troops in the southern Gaza Strip, IDF tanks fired at observation post in response.
Throughout the day Monday, the IDF disrupted internet and cell signals in areas close to the border, to stop Hamas from mobilizing more people.
The protests, which have been going on for weeks, are scheduled to culminate on Tuesday, the day Palestinians mourn as the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe" when, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of them were driven out of their homes or fled the fighting around Israel's creation.
According to IDF assessments, Hamas will likely be able to bring tens of thousands of Palestinians to the border fence to clash with IDF troops on Tuesday as well, but in light of the high death toll from Monday, it is doubtful Hamas would be able to meet the goal it set itself of some 100,000 protesters. Funerals for many of the dead in Monday's protests are expected to take place Tuesday after noon prayers.
The Gaza Division held an initial inquiry into Monday's events and is expected to implement some of the conclusions drawn on Tuesday in light of the escalation by the main instigators of violence, who used women or protesters dressed up as women to mislead the Israeli forces.
The Air Force, meanwhile, is also preparing for more extreme scenarios, such as the launch of rockets from Gaza into Israel.
The IDF's "target bank" was also updated in recent days, signaling to Hamas that any unusual incident or use of a firearm against IDF soldiers will be met with a swift response deep inside Gaza. Israel also sent a warning to Hamas that if Monday's events repeat on Tuesday, and if the situation escalates further, it would not hesitate to target the terror group's leaders as well.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Lieberman accepted the recommendations of the IDF and the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories to reopen the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Tuesday, despite three recent arsons on the Palestinian side.
At the same time, the IDF is preparing to face clashes in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well.
The Jerusalem Police held a situation assessment on Monday night to discuss preparations for Nakba Day, marked a day after the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem, which could serve as a catalyst for rioting. Police deployed some 3,000 officers across the capital, particularly at checkpoints and in the eastern part of the city.
Yoav Zitun, Elior Levy, Itamar Eichner and Yishai Porat contributed to this report.